The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch
The origin of the Syriac Orthodox Church can be referred to Acts of the Apostles 11:26, where we read that the followers of Jesus in Antioch were called Christians. This church was the first outside Palestine and was – according to tradition – founded by the apostles. The head was the apostle Peter, who according to the same tradition, in Antioch his “Apostolic See” settled and moved later to Rome, where he is still based. The Syrian Christians living in various countries in the Middle East (Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq) and Turkey. They live in Europe and North America. The liturgy in Syriac. Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic used belongs to the Semitic languages â€‹â€‹and is to this day in the church books. Aramaic would have been the language spoken by Jesus Christ.
As mentioned above teaches the tradition that the Church of Antioch was founded by Peter and he was her first patriarch before his departure for Rome. Peter would have led the newly founded Church from 37 to 44. Christianity spread to the provincial capital of Edessa. Tur Abdin area according to tradition was Christianized by the apostle Thaddaeus. Edessa, Antioch and Tur Abdin form the original core of the Syrian Christianity.
Christianity spread further east to India and China. The patriarch of Antioch also had all the Christians in the Far East under his wing. Therefore carries the patriarch (even now) the title “Patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church and the whole East”. In India and in particular Sri Lanka are considerable Syriac Orthodox communities that were already established in ancient times.
After the Council of Ephesus in 431 split a portion of the Syrian Church away from it, residing in the Roman Empire, Patriarchate of Antioch. As the East Syrian Church was born.
The Council of Chalcedon in 451 led to a schism between the West Syrian Church and the Byzantine Christianity. Chalcedon issued a ruling regarding the “two natural leather. The Church of Antioch could not agree with this formulation. Without the divine-human to give character of Christ, they clung to the unity of Christ, even in his nature. By their opponents they were therefore called “Monophysites” (supporters of the one nature of Christ). This separation is the basis of the creation of the Syrian Orthodox Church.
Persecution on the part of the Byzantines were not. Especially under the emperor Justinian (519-527) they were fierce. His successor, Justinian (527-565) was more moderate. He even gave consent to the consecration of bishops miafysitische. One of them was James Baradaeus. Mainly due to his work, the Syrian Orthodox did not undergo in the battle. Hence, the Syrian Orthodox also called Jacobites.
Until the year 518 was the Patriarchate of Antioch. Then it was moved to different monasteries, among others, at Edessa, later Militene, Amida (Diyarbakir), Mardin (until 1928), Homs and since 1959 has its headquarters in Damascus.
The Syrian churches experienced a flowering period of the 4th to the 7th century with great literary productivity and many missionary activities. From the seventh century, the era of Islamization and Arabization commenced.
As teachers of the Muslims, the Syrian Christians spent mainly the scientific world of the Greeks closer to the Arabs by their translations from the Syrian and / or Greek into Arabic. So were the Syrian Christians who made possible the scientific progress of the Islamic world, as in Alexandria used the new Islamic rulers initially Alexandrian Christians to expose the huge treasures of the old libraries and teaching Islamic teachers.
Still suffering the Syrian Orthodox community under severe persecution by Islam, contempt and discrimination that Christians as part fell under the Islamic regime. Sometimes came horrific geweldsplegingen for, in different time periods, the Muslim rulers were tolerant. Late fourteenth and early fifteenth century, Christians in the Middle East victim of Tamerlane.
In the nineteenth century, Western missionaries reached the Syrian communities in isolated. The clergy and the people now turned out, compared with the developed West meantime, unskilled and infrastructure was severely damaged.
The genocide of Armenian Christians in eastern Turkey (from 1915) was not confined to this group: too Suryoye members are heavily. Many fled Turkey and settled in Syria. Their patriarch followed and settled in Damascus in 1959.
Patriarch Ignatius Zakka II died on March 21, 2014. The Holy Synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church was convened to elect a successor. The synod was held at St Jacob Baradeus Monastery in Atchaneh, Lebanon. The Synod chose Cyril Aphrem Karim as the 123rd successor of St. Peter in the Apostolic See of Antioch.
The current Patriarch (since May 29, 2014) is Mor Ignatius Aphrem II. He is regarded as the 123rd in the apostolic succession. He has his headquarters in Damascus. The Church has 26 archdioceses.
According to some estimates, has the global community about 6 million members, including some like the Indian believers up to 10 million. The faithful originally lived mainly in the Middle East and in India. Meanwhile, the Church is present worldwide. It started with the departure of almost all continued Suryoye from Turkey. They fled fighting between the PKK and the Turkish army. Many of Syria followed since then, sometimes for political reasons, often for economic reasons. They found a new life in Europe, Canada or the U.S.A.
Mor Ignatius Aphrem Karim II
Patriarch of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch